Thursday, May 31, 2007

Super Rich Divinity

Two exciting bits of The Divine Comedy news. Neil Hannon is at work on a London West End musical for children. Man, are we pissed that this never made it into U.S. entertainment news. As if we gave a rip about which no-talent loser won American Idol or what that Fergie creature is up to. Maroon 5? Yeah, right, who cares... (Okay, JunkThief does get the fuss about Brandon Flowers...completely, especially with the beard and glasses.) But we digress.

It's very easy seeing Hannon doing some Van Dyke Parks meets Brecht and Weill/dark but sweet kiddie show.
As if that weren't enough, JunkThief came across these incredible MP3s of Hannon covering everything from Bowie's Life on Mars to Randy Newman's Lonely at the Top to Nelly Furtado's Man Eater to Krafwerk's Radioactivity to a version of The Good Life with strings so plush they'd make Nelson Riddle and Mitch Miller blush. Okay, he's not gloss magazine pretty, but this guy puts JunkThief further and further over the edge in a very different kind of way.

Too much. Get out of town. As if this guy could not get more divine.

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Forced synchronicity?

Written on a wall on 21st Street between Mission and Lexington.

Is there true synchronicity out there or is it an invention of the dreaded “spiritual but not religious” crowd as much as God is the self-serving love child of the Bible
thumpers and rosary gropers, all denying that we live in a stew of meaningless chaos? Or, are we all in denial of the fact that life is a cabaret or at least a banquet? Or, most frightening of all, are we all just forever making return trips to an existential Home Town Buffet, clogging our psychic arteries with one more supersized order of Zen fries covered with tao gravy?

These questions were racing through JunkThief’s battered little rodent brain as he returned from an appointment in Berkeley and his phone rang just before the West Oakland stop. Unable to talk for more than 90 seconds, he did let his ex, W________ in Park Slope, know that he was willing to see the Weill-Lenya musical Love Musik despite generally negative reviews. And the Manhattan journey that just Tuesday looked to be sparse is suddenly jam packed, mostly with work appointments, and very little open space. Does it make sense to see a second rate representation of one of the most fascinating of Weimar romances? Oh, whatever, he decided, resigned to go with what happens as the travel sped like a burrowing gopher beneath the bay.

Deciding to take the 16th Street exit and enjoy a stroll down the Mission’s version of Lexington Avenue, Valencia, JunkThief stepped into the Community Thrift Store where, as usual, they were playing far better music than most upscale retail outlets. In this case it was Marianne Faithful’s 20th Century Blues. He probably lingered longer than he would have otherwise if only to wait until he had the chance to hear Marianne warble “Surabya Johnny.” If they played this stuff at Saks, he'd be bankrupt.

It just wouldn’t be right not stopping in at Paxton Gate. JunkThief really didn’t need to stock up on mink penis bones, but he did nab a few crustaceans and was thrilled to find UCB professor Mel Gordon’s The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber – Weimar Berlin’s Priestess of Depravity. To his delight, there is probably more text on the cover than inside which is jam packed with amazing photos of this zany gal that makes Courtney Love look like Amy Grant. It seems inevitable that JunkThief will some day meet Gordon who is perhaps the ultimate authority on all things Weimar or at least all things naughty from that era.

Arriving back at the JunkPlex he decided to check out Eva Deadbeat’s Stuck in Vermont episode promoting the Weimar-inspired SpielPalast Cabaret since Ms. Deadbeat herself will soon be converging on Der Kleine Alexanderplatz auf der Pacifik.

Now, do all those dots connect or is it just the Junkster’s brain collecting too much useless beauty? We like to think not, but if you agree, relive his late afternoon stroll home in this slide show that is here in part 1 and part 2.

Currently in the window of Million Fishes Artists' Collection at 23rd & Bryant.

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Say Wha?

Okay, how could it be possible for conference calls to be more painful for JunkThief? Okay, here's an idea -- why don't the neighbors retrofit their 19th century brick foundation for the entire next month? Where is JunkThief's ear protection gear? Luckily June is a busy travel month.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Momento de Miguel - 1977

Okay, go ahead and say it -- maricón. Even JunkThief was not quite that fey in 1977. But there is still something oddly touching about 21-year-old Miguel showing off his moves fresh from dance school in London. The reactions from the audience are as precious as his dance. The women seem to be holding back laughter, the men look like they are simultaneously appauled and aroused.

Fearing and Trembling Perverts on the River Kwai

Now and again, a particularly obscure or forgotten bit of cultural history keeps coming back. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard mention of Sessue Hayakawa at least eight or nine times. He first resurfaced during my recent purchase and viewing of The House of Bamboo and then he was heavily referenced last night in a documentary on KQED about Asian leading men when in Hayakawa's early career he starred in films like The Tong Man (1919) and DeMille’s potboiler, The Cheat (1915) where he reputedly predated Valentino as a matinee idol. Personally, I only like DeMille’s sexy melodramas and always crawled under the bed when those spooky Biblical epics came on during the Easter season. Growing up on the Great Plains, I always free associated DeMille, The Wizard of Oz, Jesus, pastel colors, the stench of boiled eggs and tornados as sickly inter-connected omens of spring. I always cheered for the Witch of the West as a woman of color (green), but that’s another story.

Like most people under 98, I only knew of Hayakawa from The Bridge on the River Kwai, a movie I don’t think I’ve seen all the way through in eons.
I just remember from my childhood hearing that friggin’, ceaseless whistling coming from the TV set in the den while I tooled away on some crafts project on the other end of my parents’ home.

Hayakawa deserves to be remembered for more than that. There is this little clip available from The Tong Man, and I am anxious to view my now ordered copy of The Cheat.

When I first came up with the concept of JunkThief , I promised that it would be filled with Japanese prison camp neurotica/erotica. I’ve never gotten around to that, but I always thought that The Bridge over River Kwai had those elements subliminally predating the anything but subliminal Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. Those themes, however, I think were best updated in Stupeur et tremblements (Fear and Trembling) in which the Bowie/Sakamoto relationship is transferred to a Belgian woman obsessed with her Japanese female supervisor who forces her to clean the washroom, a duty accepts in bowing, salivating submission. The entire power dynamic and transfer of gay male desire
onto repressed lesbian Belgian/Japanese women is very Fassbinder-esque. (Honestly, I didn’t make that plot up.) Someday I promise to explore that whole prison camp scenario and dive deep into the childhood dreams of baby JunkThief. The fact that two of William Holden's greatest roles were with former DeMille silent era leading players (Swanson and Hayakawa) fuels the JunkThief imagination of a Sunset Boulevard follow-up starring Hayakawa and Holden in which an exotic, still handsome leading man gives tips to an emerging young talent while urging him to help him return to the screen in an Oscar Wilde penned epic. Alas, that one will only screen in the JunkThief imagination unless we can somehow put it up on JunkThief TV in Junk-mation...

I am curious what the recently discovered Slavoj Zizek of The Perverts Guide to Cinema would make of it? Gosh, I’m glad to know I finally have a guide in all of this.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Vetting the Chocolate for Symmetry

Two things that it is hoped you will never see on JunkThief are posts with titles like “50 Things About Me” or “Random Thoughts on a Tuesday.” Granted, JunkThief is very fond of randomness, the synergy of synchronicity, and just plain dumb luck. But the phrase “random thoughts” is just too overflowing with contradictory linear imagery. And, as you all know, JunkThief is anything but linear.

A nifty new book in the JunkThief library is, appropriately, Symmetry – The Ordering Principle by David Wade, a svelte 58-page volume that magically weaves art, mathematics and 19th and 18th century woodblock prints. JunkThief has long wrestled with his perfectionist symmetrical tendencies and striving towards wabi-sabi rough hewn informality, and these two sometimes merge, only to leave him wondering if this convergence is an illusion or self-deception.

Trying to decide which of these to embrace is part of the eternal process of vetting. That word is not used by JunkThief multiple times a day but probably manages to weave into a conversation or email 4-5 times a week. Needless to say it was given pause when one of his coworkers, who has a Ph.D. from that school in Cambridge that starts with an H asked him while reading a forwarded email, “’Vetting’? Is that something that can be used as a verb?” Yes, it actually can, and she seemed to grasp that it is sort of like sifting and sorting, though more specifically;

To examine or investigate (especially a person) thoroughly; to check someone for suitability or reliability for a particular activity, especially a job which requires a high degree of loyalty or trust

Being in the process of hiring people for three positions and dealing with 300-350 resumes, vetting is a word passed back and forth a lot with HR. JunkThief goes through the vetting process in many corners of his life and often finds that all the grains of sand fall through the sieve.

Today’s “resignation” by Cindy Sheehan, came barely 12 hours after JunkThief was having a conversation last night with fellow blogger/writer The Blue Elephant about activists in general and the work of Medea Benjamin and Code Pink in general. JunkThief made some brash statement about her and then retracted them partially by saying that while he probably agrees with most of Benjamin and Sheehan’s points, he just don’t want to listen to what he often finds to be shrill rhetoric. Then he looked a number of Benjamin’s video clips before work this morning and was amazed by how balanced and sane she sounds in interviews.

What’s saddest about Sheehan’s “retirement” is how some of statements almost echo Nixon’s gubernatorial concession speech. ``Good-bye America ... you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can't make you be that country unless you want it,'' she said. ``It's up to you now.'' Further she went on to say that she was the face of the anti-war movement, something that plenty of other activists could take as an insult. It is easy to understand why she would be so fatigued, angry, discouraged and confused. But it’s hard to understand why someone who dedicated so much time to a cause would give up at a point when public opinion has changed dramatically, no doubt in part due to her efforts, even if the White House has not budged.

It will take time to know if all of her work made any difference or how she’ll be remembered.

The hopelessly randomness of all these comings and goings swirled into JunkThief’s mind as the bill and chocolates came at the end of dinner down the street at Manivanh this evening. Eating there three to four times a month, JunkThief has never been given the same brand of chocolates twice. Tonight’s offering was the best yet from Hoshall’s Salon and Spa in Folsom, California, bringing a touch of comfort in knowing that each person plays his or her own role as a JunkThief to move the world randomly forward.

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JunkThief Always Wanted to Be a Shriner

What house is complete without a tea shrine? And what did poor JunkThief do back when he lived in a city without a Japantown, let alone Ichiban Kan that was selling tansu cabinets for less than he usually pays for a pair of shoes?

Most of these pots came from the Hong Kong teapot museum shop and are not even the tip of the iceberg. And as far as varities of teas? He has more varieties of Oolong than most have of pairs of socks. Okay, Warhol had his cookie jars, JunkThief has his well as LPs, 78s, shoes, silent movies, Oaxacan pottery, ex beaus...Thank God for offsite.
Off to Sugarlump for coffee in the meantime. Tea after dinner sounds good.

UPDATE: Not completely unrelated question: How many times in one day is KCRW going to play clips from the Joni Mitchell tribute album? Especially Bjork's take on "The Boho Dance"? JunkThief does love almost all things Joni, but this is starting to get on his nerves to the point to where he might actually have to resort to doing something radical -- like listen to local San Francisco commercial radio stations. Uh, no, that's not going to happen. How did this city that was once considered cutting edge on the pop music scene end up having generally stellar NPR affiliates but popular music channels that would be considered lame in Moline, Illinois. Aw well, Thank God for the internet and iTunes radio for that matter too.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Flowers on the Grave of Bad Boyfriend Voodoo

In the spirit of Memorial Day, JunkThief was planning to write a post that paid tribute to the worst break-up lines or things that inspired JunkThief to dump his various past boyfriends. You know, sort of like putting flowers on the grave of love gone baf. But there were a number of distractions (also known as having a life).

However, JunkThief decided to post one that finally drove him over the edge after three months of dating this fellow from The South (Mississippi Queen, if you know what I mean...).

It went like this:
"You know, I guess I'm really lucky that I've never been that much into clothes. I'm perfectly happy buying all my clothes at Mervyn's."

If he'd looked a bit better out of his clothes, this might have been forgiven, but, well...

Anyone with her/his own favorites is encouraged to comment. JunkThief may work on his own and submit them to Worst.Sex.Ever at the Bowery Poetry Club.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

In Its Right Place

This weekend has not been without mixed emotions, the first Memorial Weekend where both of my parents are gone and a three day estate sale is going on at Lazy Acres, the house that has been in our family for 50 years. Though I did not grow up there or ever call it home, it was built by my grandparents who developed the neighborhood and named the street after me. Over the past nine months, our family sorted through more than a century of heirlooms, keeping many things, pulling items from our own personal stashes and combining them for the huge sale this weekend.

Was it the right thing to do? That question has come up several times, and one of our cousins attended, as a sort of reconnaissance work, and he sent us his glowing approval. There was also the fear that no one would come (during heavy rains) or that nothing would move. Having assigned the sale to a contractor, we did not attend the event itself, but my sister has been giving me twice daily reports. She stood vigil across the street from a movie theatre parking lot. Though the sale began at 9 a.m., there were over 60 cars at 7:45 a.m.

This afternoon, I went to the little close out book shop at the SF Public Library. Along with the book section of the Community Thrift Store on Valencia, it's one of the most under-rated book sources in San Francisco. As I picked up a book titled Bungalow Nation, a young woman volunteer beamed at me and then disappeared as I continued to search for other finds. When I was checking out, she cooed, "Oh, the bungalow book. I was cherishing that for an hour before I started work and wondered whose hands it would end up in."

Seeing her obvious penchant for the volume I asked if I was grabbing something that she had already planned to purchase herself. "No, my husband would kill me if I brought home one more book. I just wanted to know that it was going to be in the hands of someone who would relish it the way I do. Seeing your face made my day."

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Shaken, Not Stirred

Though easy to miss on that stretch of Market between 4th and 5th, this entry is one of JunkThief's favorite Union Square buildings and always evokes images of some really cool Cantonese retake of the 007 franchise -- though perhaps with more smoke and water than martinis. Now that JunkThief knows that he has the opportunity to see From Russia With (yes, thanks Tugboat Dave) Love at the Castro, he's shaken, not stirred to attend. (Sorry, that one was just waiting out there.)

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¿ Compinche, Donde Está Mi Coche?

It was Carnaval day in the Mission, so JunkThief did the right thing -- snapped a few shots of the parade, made sure the JunkMobile's windows and tires were intact, and headed off to Japantown with a friend for a Kaiseki Bento Box lunch.

¿ Corazón de la Misión? Living here in the far southeast corner of the arrondissement hispanique, the big right toe of the Mission would be more accurate. Despite having to witness the spectacle of all the noise and tacky white folks from Antioch and Hayward descending on our barrio to shake their Hometown Buffet fueled booties to salsa and merengue, JunkThief does have to hand it to the city clean up crews that are immediately sweeping the streets on a day they would surely rather be doing something other than cleaning up trash.

Sad to see, however, that Candies, the Victoria's Secret of my 'hood was closed for the holiday. I guess if those poor things on the floats split their panties they had no local resources.

Oh, and the defacing of the poster at 24th and Bryant promoting peaches may inspire JunkThief to sign up for that literacy outreach program for graffiti artists. JunkThief's a reel gud spel chekr.

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JunkThief Worthy: Weird But Harmless

When JunkThief was on a trip to Mesoamerica last year, he was thrilled to see a U.S. and a Guatemalan coworkers bond as soul sister because, as they put it, “We’re both weird but harmless.”

That’s pretty much the JunkThief vibe, and he’s always seeking out others with similar sensibilities. In other words, he gravitates to the eccentrics sitting in the corner at the party but hastens his step as the ranting loons in U.N. Plaza start coming his way.

In that spirit and realizing that he sometimes forgets to elaborate on why he has listed some of his favorites in the “Dumpster Dive” section of the column on the right, he felt compelled to mention Jens Lekman. Since the closest JunkThief ever comes to listening to top 40 radio (Does anybody? Isn’t it sort of like pay phones these days? Even low end drug dealers have cells.) is KCRW online from Santa Monica, he has no idea how well known Jens is in the U.S.

Unfortunately he often gets labeled as the “male Bjork,” mainly because he’s from another northern latitude (Sweden) and sings in English. Like most Swedes, his English could pass for that of a native speaker. He also gets compared to Jonathan Richmond (pretty fair assessment) and the Magnetic Fields a lot too, but he’s got his own quirkier, specific vibe. He’s written a song from the perspective of Rocky Dennis from the movie Mask and released titles such as “When I Said That I wanted to Be Your Dog” and “You Deserve Someone Better Than a Bum Like Me.”

He’s probably also the most famous person after Tiny Tim to bring the ukulele back to pop music. (And, no, don't worry, JunkThief never had the hots for Tiny.) After all the division over last week’s post about Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy, JunkThief is a bit cautious to talk about Jens appeal but does think he’s probably a heck of a lot better look than Neil albeit with a more endearing than arousing vibe. Grabbing a few tracks this morning, JunkThief felt compelled to explain the appeal. There is something puppy-dog cute about him with is under-sized fedora while plucking his ukulele on this YouTube clip of him singing his nordic chart buster "You Are the Light."

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sure, It Was All About the Sets and Lighting

JunkThief went to see Wilde Boys at New Conservatory Theater courtesy of Bob, a playwright in his Monday night writing group. It was a pleasant enough entertainment, somewhere between a revue and a musical and reference to Oscar Wilde but never featuring him as an onstage character or burdening the audience with the sadder parts of his life. There was a bit of nudity, plenty of randy little songs, and a good appearance by a dancing and singing mummy. Can never have too much of that! As Bob said, it's the kind of entertainment best enjoyed after a few drinks, and JunkThief would add the type that one would likely not recall in the morning. It did feature a renowned local gogo boy/Trannyshack performer and founding member of the Cockettes, which is all in its favor. At the end of the evening, JunkThief commented that it had clever use of sets and lighting. Bob said that reminded him of his mother always saying after seeing a nearly nude revue in Vegas that she was so impressed with the costumes. Good point, Bob, its capacity to engage had nothing to do with sets and lighting.

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Humor as a Verb

Growing up, I always remembered the image at the top of this post as a familiar sight in the library of my mother’s sister’s home. It was a print about 11” x 14”, and I didn’t know the name of the original painting or the artist. Years later I would discover that was the work of John Koch whose 1964 painting “The Sculptor” would become a favorite in my high school years and a key to his world.

The painting above “The Cocktail Party” from 1956 features a number of famous heads that would eventually become familiar to me as I grew up, including Virgil Thompson and Koch himself attending bar. I came to love Koch’s work that often juxtaposed ornately appointed Upper East Side residences with frankly nude bodies or commissioned portraits of his wealthy clientele and peers.

How fitting, then, that over this long weekend I’ve been devouring The Grand Surprise, the journals, letters and random musings of Leo Lerman who is the bearded man crouching in the foreground. It’s filled with tons of dishy, bitchy gossip. A few excerpts:

“Andy Warhol more wraith than ever – the badly complected boy who never grew up, but became craftier and craftier, filling with a slow-seeming cunning and a positive-seeming cunning and a positive destruction – lighting up like a tallow candle whose flame burns dimly within the candle rather than atop it. He lights shallow, surface places hitherto hidden.”

“Faye Dunaway – very Okie – albino in atmosphere. She has determination. Her technique shows like some girls’ slips or brassiere straps.”

There are plenty of nasty accounts of sexual couplings and groupings of all combinations, but they don’t equal the pithy dissing such as these.

In many ways it’s like entering the cocktail party illustrated by Koch half a century ago, a world I longed to enter as a child with my aunt as a guide. She was fond of such gatherings, or – as she tended to put it -- “fancied putting on an affair.” She used quite a number of words as verbs in a way that most people in the heartland never would. She also would often tell me, “Might I be so bold as to suggest…” or “Oh, humor me, if you will.”

At the time I thought she meant that she wanted me to make her laugh. Of course the actual definition of that word as a verb is: To comply with the wishes or ideas of (another): cater, gratify, indulge. Reading the accounts of Lerman and his circle that included Capote, Vidal and other gay men of a particular era reminds me of the women from a certain class who needed a mascot or jester to humor them in that definition of the word. The lap dog homos were deluding into thinking they were expected to perform some giggle inducing stunt or utter a pithy witticism.

My aunt deluded herself into thinking that she was the caliber of swan that should attract a similar circle of younger men who would admire and exalt her with unfailing good humor.

Ever since her suicide this past Christmas, I’ve struggled with trying to write about her legacy intertwined with my own self-perception and our relationship which was simultaneously close and distant, cold but intense, filled with contempt and mutual admiration. She introduced me to Scott Walker, Poulenc, Proust and John Koch. She would excite and devastate me in the course of a weekend visit to her tastefully appointed home. She felt it her role to instruct and insult me, always with disquieting calmness. She embodied one of my favorite quotes from David Mamet: “The greatest test of superiority is to never be upset by impertinence.” Thus she never raised her voice or exhibited any emotion beneath her elegant mask, and she uttered the most devastating dismissals with an exquisitely graceful smile.

Reading Lerman’s book feels like a portal into the world she deluded herself and me into believing that we might someday be a part of. Much like Capote’s mother Nina, she longed to be a part of the Park Avenue registry, a goal she strove through upwardly mobile serial marriages. When, late in her career, she briefly put a ring on her finger that took her to that world – albeit a few doors down on Lexington Avenue – it ultimately proved to be a disappointment when she was not the focus of the spotlight. She was a nobody in the 10028 zip code. It was much easier to attract admirers as a swan in the shallow waters of Kansas City.

This Memorial Day, my thoughts go back to those years when I tried to humor her and the futility of indulging and attempting to gratify someone whose approval is ultimately the empty space at the end of a maze of ornately appointed rooms.

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Overall Overhaul

There's a new contractor banging around the JunkPlex, and JunkThief is just itchin' with desire. He was a bit miffed because the fellow, Angelo, wanted to come at 7:30 a.m. to avoid Carnaval parking issues. 7:30 on Saturday? Well, good thing JunkThief only had two gimlets at Bruno's last night.

The payoff, he decided was the chance to see a hot little Guatemalan guy crawling around with a tool belt and screwdriver. Well, it turns out Angelo is Italian, and just as cute as a button. He can't be more than 5'8" tall. (Insiders know that JunkThief, at 6'2", is a real push over for shorter -- but not too short -- men.) And to top it off he's wearing overalls and a cap, asking if he can work on JunkThief's circuit box with an accent that makes JunkThief feel like he has buttah pumping through his veins. JunkThief also has a weakness for tradesmen. Enough of the endless chatter about French existentialism and Borges. And there's not a chance the plumber or electrician will torture you by making you listen to Celine Dion or Madonna.

It would be really shameless to take or publish a photo of the real Angelo (though we'll see how the day plays out), but this shot is pretty close to what's banging around in JunkThief's basement. Height challenged men with accents and Mediterranean heritage are always more than welcome to strap on their tool belts and spend some time at the JunkPlex.

UPDATE: At 1:32 p.m. Angelo's been having trouble sorting out all the wires in the basement, and is still cheerful but frustrated. (If not obvious: frustrated Italian = need for sexual release.) This dude's got some hilarious lines, but the best, and most exciting, was after trying to locate the transformer in my flat he exited saying: "The next time I knock on your door it's gonna be show time!" Got the message, ready to raise the curtain, dispense with the overture and get down with act one.

UPDATE 2: Angelo the electrician completed his job and said, "We'll I think I'm about ready to button up" and then asked for a check for $1,400. Why is that scene familiar? Always quick on his feet and seeing a chance for a return performance, JunkThief asked him to give him a big for a couple of additional sockets in the master bedroom. You can never have too much power for things you may want to plug in in the bedroom.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Free Willy 911

Having wrapped up an ultimately and surprisingly productive work week after securing some Upper East Side appointments of great providence for June, JunkThief decided to exit the salt mines shortly after 5 p.m. and headed across the ‘hood for drinks at Bruno’s . A and R and D were there, and it was a good opportunity for a little pre-dinner chitter chatter over gimlets and witticisms before a long weekend of gardening, reading untranslated Proust and doing a little memoir writing. Just as the second drink was arriving, JunkThief’s Treo rang. It was a distraught Alejandro on I-80 headed to the Delta for the big whale rerouting. JunkThief was afraid that he might be in some great peril and that Carole Migden was back behind the wheel.

There did seem to be a crisis, but not locally. As if the whole Delta-locked whales were not enough, now it seems there is another water mammal crisis down in Florida. Of course, there’s not a speck of mainstream news coverage despite all the hoopla about that runaway alligator down in LaLaLand.

It appears that Al Gore’s worst nightmares seem to keep coming true daily. Now there are random reports of land bound dolphins holding up Circle K stores in the Sunshine State. There have been a string of reports from Tampa to Tallahassee, and these sons of Flipper are especially prone to go for all the Red Vines and Coors in a store. And if you have never been around a drunk dolphin, just let it be said that it’s not a pretty picture.

Alejandro insisted that he must go down there Tuesday to confirm if these reports are substantiated. So it appears poor old JunkThief will have to fly solo up to the time of his flight to Newark.

Just as things were coming to a head on that topic, Alejandro shifted gears and asked JunkThief if he wanted to go to that big homosexual festival on Market Street at the end of June. Well, needless to say, one gimlet already in his belly, JunkThief let loose with a few words he now regrets not in their intent but in their delivery. Mind you, JunkThief has engaged in virtually all 378 positions outlined in the Farmer's Almanac's guide to homosexual acts, and a large percentage of his best friends are Nancy Boys. But any time there are more than eight poofster in the same room, he goes ballistic.

Pride? All JunkThief feels when surrounded by a gaggle of homosexuals is contempt and malice. If he wanted to hang out with a bunch of screaming, drunken nipped and tucked swishy boys who all look alike, he’d go to a family reunion. Oh, wait, that’s what he’s actually doing at the end of June.

Lately JunkThief has been distraught that his beloved southeast corner of the Mission could be turning into a haven of light-in-the-loafer boys. More and more upscale coffee houses are opening, and "luxury" condos are coming every day. You know what that means -- luxury real estate calls for decorators, florists, hair designers, and it just keeps going down hill from there. There seems to be a lot more yoo-hoo boys wanting to show him their crack than the usual yo-yo-yo boys that used to sell crack on corners.

The very thought of living in a predominately homosexual neighborhood really stresses poor JunkThief. The increased equity is just not worth the psychic angst that accompanies it. He doesn't even like to visit such places, let alone live there. The Castro? No way Jose. SOMA? Get out of town! The only homosexual neighborhood JunkThief frequents is Polk Street since it's rare that you will see more than six fudgepackers in the same block these days. Those boys with peroxided tresses and three teeth in their head peddling their oral services to garner bus fare back to Branson don't count. They are, as they say, simply tradesmen.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lenya Uber Alles! Sie Macht Eine Köstliche Number Drei

It's no secret that JunkThief loves Lotte Lenya and nice looking, sharp dressed men. How those two come together is From Russia to Love From Russia with Love. Now that the Bond franchise has been resurrected for the new Millennium thanks to Kate Moss' ex, a lot of the less familiar old Bond films are being reissued. Though generally well remembered, From Russia to Love From Russia wih Love has been a little hard to find or only available in eight to ten disc sets of all the films from the 1960s and 1970s. JunkThief likes most of the Bond franchise (except Roger Moore, but Timothy Dalton was a lot cuter than many folks gave him credit for), but it's not the first boxed set on JunkThief's list.

A new, beautifully restored version is a nice treat to have here at the JunkPlex.

As Number Three, Lenya is a deliciously butch omnivore, slapping around burly half naked Russians, and letting her finger explore a Soviet lass considering going into espianoge. As a Bond film, it's entertaining, but the screen only sizzles when Mrs. Kurt Weill is on the screen. Sure, her accent is more Vienna and Berlin than Moscow, but it's sure fun to see Pirate Jenny crack that whip once more.

Oh, and just to keep our traffic up, why not flash back to last summer's Casino Royale for a shameless republishing of the beach scene that made everyone forget whatever swimsuit it was that Ursula Andress wore all those years ago. Was there a Bond girl in this version of Casino
Royale? JunkThief can't remember.

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Save the Crustaceans!

JunkThief will be flying solo this Memorial Day Weekend, which was already planned since Alejandro was prepared to give a big presentation at the Atlantic Crustacean Association’s annual conference in Mystic, Connecticut , over the holiday. However, with all the hoopla over those displaced humpback whales in the delta, they are reconvening in Sacramento for an emergency meeting. Yes, they will be part of the efforts to send the whales back to sea, but not for the same reasons as everyone else.

“I couldn’t give a flying flip about them thupid whaleth,” Alejandro told me last night when we were getting ready for bed. See, Alejandro is part of that elite group of marine biologists that believe crustaceans are the intellectual superiors of all water-borne creatures and is up in arms about all this fuss about a couple of fat ass water mammals while there’s not an inch of ink or second of air time talking about how those swimming porkers are upsetting and – yes – murdering the crustaceans up and down the delta.

“I’m jutht thick of mammal thupremithy,” he is always saying. Now some folks mistake him for a vegetarian, but he’ll eat any red meat or pork but would push an old lady in front of a bus in order to save a crab in the middle of the street. I love my Castilian papi, but hearing him rant on and on about how snooty he thinks water mammals are does test my nerves at times. That's one of the reason I started this blog as an escape.

When he sees a restaurant brag that they have dolphin free tuna, he’ll bark out, “I want to eat Flipper! Bring me a platter of dolphin meat on a thkwewer!”

Now, he’s claiming he has to be gone to save the delta crustaceans, but I think I know the real reason. See, Saturday is Carnaval in the Mission, and the parade goes just around the corner from the JunkPlex. Anyone who’s ever been around a Castilian and a few thousand folks from Latin American knows the tension that can brew between those two links in that food chain. Last year, Alejandro consented to attend while making plenty of snide remarks about the Bolivians walking around wearing chulos and strumming churangos. He was deriding them as rodent eating hicks because they like cuys (guinea pigs) and they were calling him a papist conqueror. Now Alejandro will eat any other mammal but gets pissy when it comes to rodents. I, on the other hand, have eaten cuys on several trips to Andes. While not my favorite dish, it'll do in a pinch. It sort of tastes like crispy squirrel .

Things got really tense last year when my friend Vivian Valvoom from Bonsall was here..
When she asked Alejandro where he was from, she replied, “Oh, Seville, that’s near Cancun, isn’t it?”

Personally I refuse to get into the whole argument since I love people from Latin America as much as my Alejandro. And, of course, he lets people know that he’d never eat a lobster or crab but that I am the one crustacean he just loves to slather with butter and make a pig of himself over. I think I'm the luckiest guy in San Francisco, and I plan to get plenty of Land of Lakes at Safeway Sunday afternoon awaiting his return.

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Thursday Garden Shots

The agapanthus is in bloom as well as the shrub below whose name I forget. After having them for just under a year, the birds of paradise have yet to bloom. They keep getting bigger and look healthy but no blooms. Any advice?


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

World War III

One of the odd comforts of working with my sister to settle the material aspects of our parents’ estate is coming across unexpected treasures. Yesterday she discovered a rubber squeeze toy bulldog that was a present on my first birthday and I have not seen it in 30 years. Last fall we came across a stash of letters written during my parents courtship. We had found similar letters of my father’s parents’ protracted courtship from 1909 to 1910 three decades ago.

It was especially disconcerting to read language I never heard my father use around me when my mother was alive but began using to describe her after she died in 2004 and he was alone for two and a half years, dealing with Alzheimer’s.

Walking along Valencia and seeing Toni Morrison’s Beloved in a book stall, these words he wrote to my mother when she was in New York and he in Dallas came back in a flash as dusk arrived.

December 29, 1947

My dearest Miss H_____________

Well, here it is 6:15 p.m. and there is no one else in this lonely office but me and the porter, sweeping and dusting in the distance. I hope you do not mind that I am working on my typing skills by writing you. This certainly is not something I would ask the girls in the secretarial pool to type out. I must say it feels so lonely down here, cold but not as brittle as I am sure it is up there. I can’t help but think of both of us, my beloved, in these big cities alone and waiting to be together. I count the days.

I do not know what to make of that silly family of mine. I write and call, but it seems they do not have the time for me. Oh, you don’t know what it means to get your letters. They are a light in this winter.

Last night Larry and I went to see the new movie “The Bishop’s Wife.” I thought it was quite good, with very good writing and acting. I know you and that you have probably already seen it and can write me a long treatise on the mistakes that I did not see in it, but I will look forward to hearing what you have to say.

There is something I have wanted to write in my past few letters but have struggled with how to state it. I know that you hear all the talk that there will be another world war, and this one may be even bigger than the one we thought would end them all. It seems that this time I would have no choice but to serve. That is something we cannot ignore, and I want you to know that if that happens I would not expect you to have to wait for me to return. The covenant we have made still means everything to me, and I want you to know that it is only you that I want, but I do not want to think of you ever having to be the widow. We will have to wait and see what happens, and I hope that I never have to serve. I just want you to know that you are my beloved, and that my life has been blessed if it was only what we have shared the past 12 months.

That war never came, they married ten months later. My mother spoke of them doing a lot of ballroom dancing during this period, something that, like the language in this letter, I never witnessed them sharing together in my life time. While this letter came up in my mind as the sun was setting and objects were vague in the distance, I was sure that I could see them waltzing in a world that would never witness another global war. And then the image faded into darkness.

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Behind the Scenes at JunkThief

From time to time the JunkThief team feels the need to explain itself (themselves? myself? himself?) and step out from behind the curtain and reveal some of the secrets of this blog.

Although the regular visitors to JunkThief are highly intelligent (rumored to have at least 18 years of formal education and speak an average of four languages), from time to time we have folks that stumble upon this blog after entering a Google a word chain such as "satan-fag-Weimar-taro-Catalan-Scott Walker" and are completely confused. What is fact? What is fiction? What is fancy? Oh, get a sense of humor!

That's why you'll notice the new little reader's guide at the near upper right corner of the blog and the variety of colored text that appears within several entries this month. We'll try to colorize the archives over the Memorial Day Weekend. But no promises. Alejandro says he's taking me to a glamorous spa near Tuscaloosa, and he won't even let me take my Palm Treo 650 with me.

Occasionally a reader will ask if this is a poetry blog, a vlog blog, a memoir and journal blog, a news blog or just some irrational rambling of a loony. Well, not unlike The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly it has combinations of all of those. (Okay, those rags don't have YouTube links yet.) But we felt it was a bit crass to have POETRY or FICTION in screaming bold text at the top of entries. So our editorial team concluded that it was important to use the new color coding system from this month forward.

Now, we will strongly emphasize that we do our best to make those factual entries as accurate as possible, but it's not like we have Dewar's and Ralph Lauren ads in our coffers to give us a staff of thousands. We have to rely on our little fact checking fairies, but their wings do get tired when they are sent off on assignment to places like Baku and Fargo.

Also, we often quote from other blogs, and all we can vouch for is whether or not it's a direct quote. In other words, only JudyMeat can confirm if that trip to Prague really happened, and only Aunty Christ can verify if she really is 96 years old. Not that I doubt them for a second, mind you.

However, we thought it might be good to clear up the facts on a few of the "characters" that frequently show up here:

  • JunkThief's cousin Ginger is real and lives in Royal Oak, Michigan. Sometimes the conversations reported are"dramatic re-enactments" or exaggerations of what really went down.
  • JunkThief's boyfriend Alejandro, alas, is a fictional character. However, we are anxious to find the real thing. Any candidates interested in applying are strongly encouraged to do so. He is beginning to serve as a device the way "Fang" did for Phyllis Diller's act. So as Phyllis would do after relating a "Fang" story, JunkThief may end those Alejandro tales with a big ha ha HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! and a tip of the martini glass and cigarette holder.
  • JunkThief's housekeeper Lyrrkvyntiaf is also a fictional character. Needless to say, the JunkPlex is dustier than we'd like it to be.
  • JunkThief does have a cousin named Sheldon, however he is not the Jewish anti-Christ. He is a Jewish devil and homesteaded on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska in the 1970s.
  • JunkThief does have the various exes mentioned. With only one exception, they stay in regular touch and do wonderful things like look after the cat, treat him to nice dinners, send him presents, tell him he looks great -- all the things that never happened when we were together. No, they don't all live in Texas. One is in Dallas, the bulk of the others are in the 94114 , 94110 and 12512 zip codes.
  • Ann Coulter -- Never met that prick and never want to. However, as with the purple cow, I'd rather see than ever be her.
  • JunkThief has been to most of the bizarre and remote places mentioned -- Ha Giang, Vietnam; northern Potosi, Bolivia; Bogande, Burkina Faso; Kavre District, Nepal; Bayonne, Haiti to name just a few. He has also been to Lansing, Spokane and Fayetteville. He has yet to visit Fargo or Baku but longs to visit both.
  • Folks like J and B and A are real, and those are the real first letters of their first names. We doubt that you'd be able to track down B in Manhattan with just his initial. Oops, we just narrowed the field by revealing his gender. Miss B to you!
In the meantime, we appreciate every visitor that drops by, and we get a little thrill each time there's a new comment. Keep those comments and emails coming, and we always welcome suggestions on what you'd like to see in the future issues of JunkThief.

In the meantime, see you down at the swap meet.

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